Almost half of Brits think Boris Johnson eased coronavirus rules too soon: poll
Forty-six percent of British voters said they thought restrictions were lifted too early in an exclusive POLITICO poll.
Boris Johnson is determined to press ahead and lift coronavirus restrictions — but British voters aren’t so sure.
The U.K. government has come under fire from some scientists for ditching social distancing rules and mask mandates while COVID cases continued to soar on July 19. Initially billed as “freedom day” by elements of the media and some politicians, Johnson eventually struck a more cautious tone as he asked Brits not to treat the easing like a “great jubilee.”
However, an exclusive poll for POLITICO by Redfield and Wilton Strategies suggests Johnson may have moved too soon. Forty-six percent of the 1,500 respondents to the survey conducted on July 29 said it was “too soon” to lift restrictions, compared to 33 percent who thought it was the right time. Just 12 percent thought it was “too late.”
The findings also show that Brits largely remain wary of the virus, continuing to take a number of precautions whether required by law or not.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they would be likely to fully self-isolate if they came into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. This comes despite the U.K.’s “pingdemic,” which caused staff shortages in some industries due to high numbers of people being asked to isolate via contact tracing notifications from the National Health Service’s COVID app. Only 10 percent said they would be unlikely to isolate if asked.
Asked about precautions they had taken in the last month, 56 percent said they had worn a mask in settings where it was not required, 53 percent had avoided large public gatherings and 40 percent had avoided public transport. More than a third (36 percent) said they avoided pubs or restaurants, which have been open in some form in the U.K. since April, while a fifth said they avoided meeting family or friends.
The figure on masks will be of some comfort to government scientists, who continue to stress their importance despite mixed messages from ministers.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance — the U.K.’s most visible scientific experts throughout the pandemic — indicated on July 5 they would continue to wear masks after the July 19 rule change, while Johnson said it would “depend on the circumstances.”
One of his ministers, the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, said on July 4 he would stop wearing a mask when they were no longer legally required. When the government later released advice that said Brits are “expected and recommended” to keep wearing masks after a sharp rise in cases, Jenrick told the BBC he had said nothing of the sort.
Asked by the pollster who they trust more within the context of the coronavirus pandemic, 57 percent of respondents said they trust scientists advising the government more than they trust ministers. Just 1 percent said they trusted the politicians more.